Directed by Cowboys & Aliens and Star Trek Into Darkness writer Alex Kurtzman from a script by Prometheus and Passengers writer Jon Spaihts, Universal prepare to take the wraps off their monstrous cinematic universe next summer with The Mummy starring Edge of Tomorrow‘s Tom Cruise as Nick Norton, Man of Steel‘s Russell Crowe as Doctor Henry Jekyll and Star Trek Beyond‘s Sofia Boutella in the title role of Princess Ahmanet, imprisoned under the sand for millennia and now awoken.
Revisiting a selection of the classic characters who first made Universal Studios so successful back in the 1930’s, with the Invisible Man set to appear in 2018 followed by the Wolf Man showing his face for the full moon, the Gill Man rising from the Black Lagoon and the Bride of Frankenstein pursued down the aisle by Van Helsing, a shared universe of action/adventure/horror films.
The success of that plan will depend strongly on the box office performance of The Mummy, which also stars Annabelle‘s Annabelle Wallis, Safety Not Guaranteed‘s Jake Johnson, The Divide‘s Courtney B Vance, Las brujas de Zugarramurdi‘s Javier Botet and Skyfall‘s Selva Rasalingam as King Menehptre.
With Cruise and Crowe presumed to be ongoing characters within the universe, later films are tipped to feature Yoga Hosers‘ Johnny Depp as the Invisible Man and Automata‘s Javier Bardem as Frankenstein’s monster, and Universal will have high hopes for a box office returns to justify their investment. With The Mummy scheduled for release on June 9th next year, the team offer their opinions of the first trailer.
It appears the story and script budget all went into the CGI fund. It comes across as a meaningless CGI fest and watching the trailer makes me want to go and get out the 1999 Mummy with Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz. That had charm, and fun and charisma, this has… Cruise and Crowe looking all moody and serious.
Fifty four year old Cruise (although he does look damn good for it) is partnered with a female co-star more than twenty years younger than him to run around next to him so he can be play the hero. The feels tired even before you get onto the corpse.
Adam Dworak – To describe how do I feel about this trailer I could paraphrase another Tom Cruise – Show me the mummy!
You can’t make a movie called The Mummy without the mummy! I want a decomposed body wrapped in dirty bandages! I want pyramids and the sands of the Sahara! I want ancient texts, mystery and romance. I want something more like Stephen Sommers’ The Mummy.
In this trailer the only mummy is Tom Cruise who is fifty four now and with each passing year looks younger and younger. It feels more like the Transformers franchise than a remake of the Boris Karloff original and that’s not a good thing.
I shall be passing on this one.
Les Anderson – Mummies on a Plane! Yawn. Yet another tedious exercise in pointless overblown digital effects. I will avoid this.
Now Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2…
Michael Flett – I’ve known this was coming for quite some time and had vastly little interest in it, but having seen the trailer I will admit that I am now fascinated to see just how bad this is. In two minutes, they have made it look truly, utterly terrible.
The Mummy, Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolf Man, the films which secured a future for Universal when it was struggling, based on classic stories, they were subtle films of meagre budgets, filmed in flickering black and white in a world appalled by the war which had destroyed Europe. They were about atmosphere and suspense and sadness and retribution and the performances of the leads and the pioneering makeup effects.
This? It’s about selling popcorn and gallons of soda to overweight braindead Americans. Disney have both the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Star Wars, Warner Bros have had The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and the Harry Potter films which they’re revisiting with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Paramount have Star Trek and Transformers and Fox have their X-Men, and Universal want something similar.
You can’t just snap your fingers and create something like that, there’s never any guarantee it will connect with an audience over an extended period, so they’ve looked to their back catalogue and their existing roster of stars and their recent big hits and someone has said “take the monsters and make it like Mission: Impossible and put Tom Cruise in it!”
There is not one ounce of sense, originality or artistic merit in this. It’s just explosions and digital destruction of property. It’s like there’s no off switch, nobody to say “enough already, less is more.” There is nothing in this which makes me want to see it. I like Sofia, but she’s not enough to make me suffer through this.
Isn’t this their third or fourth attempt to launch their monster universe? The 2010 version of The Wolfman with Benicio del Toro directed by Joe Johnston was not bad but it suffered from too much reliance on digital effects where traditional would have suited the mood of the film better, but for some time now Universal have preferred digital in everything. “We’ve invested in it, we’re going to use it, whether the story needs it or not.” I call it the Sommers effect. We’ll come back to that later.
Next up was Dracula Untold which was not a good script to begin with and was exactly the same – epic spectacle, magical powers smiting vast armies, impossibly high cliffs and terrible falls, but who cares? You can only believe a film if it has some grounding in reality, and it was just a showcase for what could be done with a powerful rendering engine, never asking whether it was a good idea.
They’re not wanting to build an audience by respecting them and engaging them, they just want the absolute lowest common denominator, but like Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull which switched from the practical stunts and modelwork of the originals to greenscreen and digital, spectacle and peril only convince when it’s real. They have no understanding of how cinema works and no interest in producing quality.
Apparently the scene in the hold of the crashing plane was performed on a so-called “vomit comet” to achieve the free-fall effect, and Tom does like to do his own stunts, and I admit this tops what he did in Rogue Nation but it’s not enough. One scene does not a film make, and nothing else here looks remotely interesting to me. I’d rather read a good book.
I’m one of the few who found Stephen Sommers’ version of The Mummy unbearable and anything I have seen by him since then confirms my feeling that he should never be allowed near a film camera again. Van Helsing is without doubt one of the worst films I have ever seen, egregiously, offensively terrible in every way imaginable, insulting to the intelligence of children, preposterous in its staging, ridiculous in the liberties taken with the source material, a $160 million vanity project, and that is apparently what Universal want to emulate here.
Kevin Gilmartin – Well that looks…er, a bit…um…. Nope, sorry, I have so few words to describe my utter lack of interest in this film that I’ve not even going to try anymore. I normally like Tom Cruise action stuff, like Mission: Impossible, but this just looks like The Mummy: Tom Cruise Runs AwayFrom Stuff.
The Mummy is scheduled for release on 9th June 2017